The Fourth Petition
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”- James 1:16–17
Petitions one through three of the Lord’s Prayer, as we have seen, are Godcentered in their emphasis on the hallowing of our Creator’s name, the extension of His kingdom, and our willing service to Him (Matt. 6:9–10; Luke 11:2). Yet although God and His glory deserve first place in our lives, that does not mean He is indifferent to our needs as creatures. In fact, our Father cares for us deeply and wants our prayers to address our concerns as well. This is plain in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).
As we consider this petition, it is important to see that it is a prayer for our daily needs and not our daily wants. Of course, we do not sin when we ask the Father for good gifts that we do not actually need to survive. Nevertheless, when we pray for ourselves, we should emphasize what we need to live and to do the Lord’s will. This is the truth given in the Lord’s Prayer, but the Apostle Paul also alludes to it when calling us to be content with “food and clothing” alone (1 Tim. 6:8).
In asking for God to provide our needs, as question and answer 125 of the Heidelberg Catechism tell us, we are asking God to remind us that we cannot rely on ourselves and our labor alone but require divine blessing for the fruitfulness that will allow us to provide for ourselves and our families. Our Father does not bestow this blessing grudgingly, as He is the source of “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). In one sense, it is not something that we need to ask, for the Lord “sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” supplying the needs even of those who are not His people (Matt. 5:45). We pray this petition because we need to be reminded that we must not rely on ourselves and ignore the holy Creator in the most basic aspects of life. Working to feed ourselves is a universal part of human experience (Gen. 3:17–19), and it is quite easy for us to forget that God alone is the ultimate source of our well-being. Actually, most people on the planet do not acknowledge the true Lord of all as the One who meets their needs. Christians are not immune to this sin, and the Lord’s Prayer keeps God and His goodness at the forefront of our minds. As we pray for the Lord to meet our needs, may we always remember to rely on Him for all things, thanking Him for His goodness.
Paul tells us that the failure to thank God for His blessings is one of the two basic sins of which all fallen people are guilty (Rom. 1:21). This means, among other things, that we tend toward ingratitude and need to be aware of its presence in our lives. May we seek to avoid this transgression by recalling God’s goodness and asking the Lord to supply our needs so that we never forget that He is the source of all of the good things in our lives.
Passages for Further Study